Some fish in King County aren't safe to eat. How do you warn the right people?
Yellow perch, cutthroat trout, a couple of species of bass — in lakes Washington, Sammamish, and Meridian, these fish are not safe to eat.
The Washington State Department of Health has found that these and several other species of fish in three King County lakes are contaminated with a perfluorinated chemical that can harm immune and reproductive systems, and increase the risk of certain kinds of cancer.
Now the challenge is to get the word out to affected communities. The problem is: To do that, the state would first need to know who is eating these fish. And they’re not sure. The last study of who eats which fish species from King County lakes was done in 2007 — 15 years ago.
The agency is trying to cover its bases by posting a health advisory on its website in five languages. Popular fishing spots will also have health advisories posted in English, Spanish, and Chinese as well as other languages, depending on the location.
The agency has also reached out to the Wild Fish Conservancy and the Muckleshoot Tribe to let them know about the new research.
King County’s public health agency is contacting communities that fish the Duwamish — because those communities have been surveyed more recently and might also eat fish from local lakes — as well as to people who speak a variety of languages and might be able to help spread the word.
But a state fish biologist worries there are lots of public fishing piers, especially around Lake Washington, that might not have any posted warnings at all, so some anglers might not hear the news.